Monday, April 27, 2015
The medieval sound of the horn - by Vijaya Schartz
Nothing says medieval like the sound of a horn in the distance, filling a valley, bouncing off mountains, and reminding everyone around that something important, or dreadful, was about to happen. These horns were made of animal horns or ivory, hence the name. Often they were sculpted or engraved with intricate carvings.
My first recollection of reading about such horns was in school, while learning about Charlemagne and his loyal nephew Roland, who was isolated and attacked at the end of the column, by the enemy, in the Pyrenees. The mournful sound of Roland's horn, named Oliphant, called for help but remained unheard by Charlemagne at the front of the legion. As a result, Roland was killed, despite his unbreakable sword, Durandal. At the time it was a tragedy. Roland was Charlemagne's favorite nephew, and history says that he was betrayed by the knight Ganelon.
Nothing can set the mood in a medieval novel, like the sound of a horn. Every time I read or write about it, it gives me goosebumps. Whether it's a village fire, an invasion, a natural danger, the horn is often a precursor of calamity.
Even now, we use sirens to warn the population of tsumani, tornadoes, and other dangers. Their sound imitates the mournful lament of the ancient horn.
In BELOVED CRUSADER, my latest book in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, the Crusaders, like the armies of Charlemagne, set out and stop to the sound of the horn. Actually, they also take the Charlemagne road, that crossed Europe from its northern point to the famed city of Constantinople. Hope you enjoy the read.
Vijaya Schartz, author
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